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Empowering Innovators of Tomorrow: The Lodha Genius Programme Bridging Gaps in High School Education

The vision and goal of the programme is to open out a world to these passionate high schoolers, enabling them to be creative and think out of the box by providing them ample guidance and continuous mentoring throughout the year

Anupama Ambika Anilkumar

17 January, 2024 | 4m read

The Lodha Genius Programme, a joint initiative of Ashoka University and Lodha Group, has been built with a vision to bring together students of classes 9- 12 to get enormous exposure to mathematics, science and inter-disciplinary art and science in a hands-on fashion. In today’s world, there is an immense gap between the education given at schools and colleges and the real world of careers and opportunities. Sometimes, it becomes challenging to find suitable talents in the job market. Due to the lack of direction and guidance, it so happens that students who are passionate about particular fields or subjects tend to deviate due to the rat race of making money and getting in and ‘settling’ into a stable life. Undoubtedly, societal pressures are just a catalyst to this whole process. This results in the disappearance or non-discovery of talents and talented individuals. The vision and goal of the programme is to open out a world to these passionate high schoolers, enabling them to be creative and think out of the box by providing them ample guidance and continuous mentoring throughout the year. To this end, the programme is designed as a mix of one month of on-campus training at Ashoka University, followed by nearly ten months of continuous mentoring. Another unique aspect of this programme is its loop in nature. Once enrolled, students remain in the programme and can return every year until they finish school. The new entrants are admitted into the programme based on an aptitude test based on their critical thinking skills and logical reasoning. Next year, we intend to introduce social intelligence and behaviour into these modules to set standards differently from the current school education.

The fully funded nature of the programme enables us to bring students from different socio-economic backgrounds and geographies under one roof. While it may sound very benevolent, this process is one of the most difficult to manage and integrate. Unlike many existing fully funded programmes that cater to a specific stratum of society (underprivileged in most cases), here we try to bring maximum diversity to a single platform. That is to encourage peer-to-peer learning—an effective technique to mould and refine individuals. But it is necessary to lay the foundation for this correctly, or it can backfire—making it a disastrous attempt. Mechanisms ensuring that each student feels well integrated into the system, irrespective of their background, is a quintessential part of our process.

The Team of Lodha Genius Programme

The curriculum of the programme is a mix of seminars in science and mathematics and hands-on by top-notch researchers from all over the world, including the University of Cambridge, the University of California Los Angeles, Yale University, the University of Chicago (including a Nobel Laureate- Jack Szostak), Indian Institute of Science, Stanford University, Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS), National Centre for Biological Sciences to name a few. We also had didactic lectures from technology partners like Zeiss Microscopy, Google India and Olympus.

The seminars intended to motivate this young science-loving generation to bridge the gap between school education and the use of these concepts in top-quality scientific research. More than narrating success stories, the seminars focussed on how to turn your failures into success stories. The grit and resilience behind every researcher were a real inspiration and instilled a lot of confidence amongst these bright students who undoubtedly would be the future of India.

The hands-on projects helped the students to experience what a real scientific lab would be and see how ethics and ideas of sustainability were incorporated into every project. It opened wider doors of possibilities and networks to these students who otherwise would have had to wait for several years to gain even a quantum of this experience. The problem-solving seminars in mathematics were a rigorous training of International Olympiad level standards that many enjoyed, and at the same time, many felt challenged!

The Ashoka infrastructure—a 24/7 accessible library with e-resources and massive sports facilities—kept them occupied when they were exhausted (in a positive way) after their academic sessions. For us, the real learning experience was also to see how much peer-to-peer learning was encouraged and occurred organically. The diversity of the students proved to be a great testing ground for the same. It was not just a platform for cultural exchanges that crossed language barriers but also an exchange bed for ideas, skills and competencies.

Together, we are working towards creating impacts at multiple levels. The programme is not only confined to the 100 students who would come to the campus every summer and their continuous mentoring but also creating a broader impact by having several off-shoot layers like winter workshops, science fairs, creation of science and maths circles for 6-8 graders and so on. We also intend to make all the courses and materials open source—a new way of looking at things that fully supports the idea of giving back to the community. We have designed the programme such that it is replicable throughout the country. We hope that many institutions and organisations will come forward with many such programmes in the future so we can have a good set of curious, passionate and creative individuals who value science and mathematics and participate in nation-building!

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka